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2020 Makers of Tomorrow: Phillip Yu

This design expert transitioned from working out of his parent’s garage to collaborating with Snoop Dogg.





Age: 37
Job: Creative Director, Gamut Media (Fullerton, CA)
After work: An art and tattoo enthusiast, Yu also likes to spend time with family, friends and his girlfriend.
Quote to know: “Everyone has the same machines. It’s the design that makes it different.”

BEFORE HE WAS stacking up mural projects for a rap icon, Phillip Yu was printing banners for Little League teams out of his parents’ garage in Diamond Bar. Such were the humble beginnings of Gamut Media, Yu’s printing and graphics company. Yu’s unintentional entry into the industry coincided with the dot-com bubble/burst of the early 2000s; he had moved in with a cousin who lived in San Jose, six hours up the coast from Diamond Bar. Eventually, Yu landed in graphic design school and uncovered both his passion and talent for design. “All my teachers thought I was really good, so I stuck with it,” he recalled.

Following a few internships and a do-everything job with a large-format company, in January 2009 Yu leased a printer, set up shop in his folks’ garage and went to work. It wasn’t long before Yu had secured breakthrough partnerships with local auto dealerships. The first of those collaborations was with a BMW dealership who wanted to see Yu’s “facility,” but Yu was able to talk them out of a shop visit. “I didn’t want them to come to my parents’ house,” he said.

Eleven years later, Yu’s flair for standout design still shines through no matter the project, whether it’s decals, wraps, wall graphics, window graphics or large-format prints. Gamut’s application reach is expanding, too, with a recent flatbed-cutter purchase in part paving the way into POP and more traditional signage. “We’re not just a print shop,” Yu said. “We’re an all-in-one. We’ll design, print and install it for you.” Especially for a client like Snoop Dogg, who permitted Gamut creative control for a series of wall mural projects in the rapper’s sprawling Inglewood compound. Gamut landed its most famous client after an impressed contractor – who had previously done work for Snoop – approved of Gamut’s wall mural for a tattoo parlor run by a friend of Yu’s. “It was a pretty cool experience,” Yu said. “I’ve seen the murals in music videos and TV shows.”

Yu, who unearths design inspiration from observing other creatives and by screenshotting eye-catching social media posts, yearns to expand Gamut’s footprint in the coming years by buying a building and by maintaining the company’s practice of routinely upgrading its machines. More video, more designers and a marketing department are on the menu, too. “Our main focus is growing while keeping the good customer service and turnaround,” he said. If Yu requires a customer reference, I’m sure Snoop would oblige.


Grant Freking is Signs of the Times' Managing Editor. Contact him at [email protected].



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